10 Things that Surprised Me During My First Week in Japan + Tips


  1. People are incredibly friendly and accommodating in the countryside. Although many people have shared their experiences with prejudice Japanese, I believe this is a small percentage in comparison to those who aren’t. My entire first week, I’ve only met friendly people! On my way to my home stay, I had a Japanese man help me carry my luggage up the stairs; he didn’t say anything – he just picked up my luggage all the way to the top and went on his way to do his business. I also had to ask help several times to find my way and people were always willing to help . Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask for help; people are more than willing to help you!
  2. Their toilets are warm! At restaurants, public bathrooms at parks, and inside homes all have heated toilets! I have yet to experience a cold toilet lid. By the way, I’m in a small town in Chiba, so it’s pretty advanced here!
  3. It’s rare to  just drink water. Tea is the way to get hydrated here. Tea is served at every meal, so I rarely see anyone have a water bottle. Tip:  Bring a reusable water and grab from the tap!
  4. Japan is freakishly cold. I come from southern California, so I’m not used to this weather, but I asked a French woman if it was just as cold back at home, and she too thinks Japan is colder.Tip:  So, to accommodate to this weather, heated pads, which you place on your clothes – not on your skin! Ouch!, help you keep warm. Also, gloves may help a little bit, but if you have wool mittens, those will help your fingers from going numb! Also, you’ll want to layer – an undershirt, a top, a cardigan, and a thick jacket. The weather may change throughout the day and you can simply peel off clothes as it gets warmer. Most places are heated really well and you won’t want to wear thick clothes.
  5. Their streets are narrow. Japan is a small country and concentrated with people, so small streets are expected. Tip: There are mirrors used at each intersection without lights, so you could see if there are cars coming or not. Also, the speed limit is pretty low, but many Japanese drivers drive slower when someone is bike riding or walking. So, it’s okay to drive slow! Also if you encounter a stopped vehicle, just use the oncoming lane if their’s no one around.
  6. Snacking is rare. Most Japanese may only eat 3 meals a day and nothing in between. I simply let my home stay family know that I cannot always eat so much for one meal because back at home I eat mostly small meals instead of 3 large meals.
  7. Their convenient stores are amazing. In Korea, I also thought the same thing, but they have great snacks, meals, and drinks at the conveniant stores. I want to try everything there! They have onigiri, packaged food that looks as if it was cooked in the morning, I believe so!, packaged snacks, steamed buns, yogurts, chia seed drinks, juices, okay, well the list goes on, but you won’t only see junk there, there are healthy choices available there as well for cheap prices!
  8. You have to take your shoes off in most places. Although I knew in homes and in traditional Japanese rooms, you’ll have to take off your shoes, you have to take off your shoes in schools, in clinics, onsens and other beauty places. Tip: Bring shoes you can slip on and off.
  9. No one is out at dark. I don’t mean in Tokyo, but in small towns. Even if it’s 7:00, if it’s dark, there won’t be much people out. You’ll rarely see anyone outside; including at restaurants.
  10. You’ll hear music play out of the blue. I still do not know the exact purpose, but I always hear announcements or music playing through the speakers throughout the town. It’s always a scheduled time. I think it may have to deal with the alarm system in case of a disaster.

6 thoughts on “10 Things that Surprised Me During My First Week in Japan + Tips

    1. Definitely do come! It is beautiful, the food is amazing, and people are so kind! A foreigner friend of mine was lost here; she can’t speak Japanese, and still people tried so hard to help her. One Japanese woman even drove her back home even though she couldn’t speak English.

      Liked by 1 person

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